Benguet is a landlocked province situated at the southern tip most of the Cordillera Region. Buguias is considered as the heart of Benguet, a third class municipality consisting of 14 barangays and is also considered as the vegetable producing capital of Benguet.
Based on the report provided by the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO), the recent typhoon Ompong that struck the mountain region on September 14 and 15, 2018 affected about 2,874 farmers out of the 14,407 farmers in the municipality. There are 676 farmers with totally affected agricultural areas while 2,198 are farmers with partially affected farms.
The geography of Buguias being rugged and mountainous and high elevation makes it more susceptible to physical hazards such as Earthquake Induced Landslide (EIL), Rain Induced Landslide (RIL), and flooding. On the other hand, the municipality is also highly susceptible to climate disturbance such as typhoon, extremely low temperature resulting to frost, and extreme high temperature which may result to severe drought.
There were five barangays that were greatly affected by the typhoon. Barangay Amlimay being the highest with 138 affected farmers, followed by Poblacion – 137 farmers, third is Natubleng – 119, ranked fourth is Catlubong with 92 farmers affected and fifth is Buyacaoan with 90 farmers affected. The rest of the barangays have low or minimal number of farmers affected ranging from three to 29 cases. The extent of damages were due to massive landslide, erosion brought by heavy rains, heavily scoured farmlands, flooded crops, damaged greenhouses, and wind damaged crops.
There are 25 types of crops damaged by the typhoon with the corresponding number of farmers by type of crops: carrots (201), cabbage (111), Potato (76), Chinese cabbage (49), radish (42), Lettuce (39), Broccoli (38). Other crops damaged were beans, bell pepper, cactus, cauliflower, celery, garden pea, onion leeks, parsley, pechay, strawberry, sugar beets, tomato, wansoy, and zucchini.
To assess the damages, TYKFI conducted an ocular inspection in six barangays namely: Amliway, Poblacion, Catlubong, Buyacaoan, Bacalong Sur, and Loo on October 23, 2018. Buguias Mayor Ruben L. Tinda-an told the TYKFI team that one of the positive traits of their farmers is resiliency. The day after the typhoon, farmers had already returned to their farms to fix whatever damage of their farms and crops were. It is normal among the townspeople to simply rely on their own in cases like this.
He added that very rarely that they would wait for assistance from either the government or private agencies before they would return to their farming activities. The only setback, he said, was finding new capital to fund the rehabilitation of their farms and resorting to heavy borrowings at exorbitant rates.
The TYKFI’s direct assistance to totally affected farmers is a huge help to these farming families. They may have recovered so easily for now, but the next planting season may be another problem to most of the farmers since they have to pay back the loaned capital with high interest rates. The provision of assistance would prevent them to access again new capital through loans.
On December 22, 2018, two teams of the Foundation drove to three cluster point areas in Buguias, Benguet, particularly in Barangays Poblacion, Loo, and Natubling to conduct HOPE Caravan for Benguet. With the donation of 374 various sets of farm inputs for those who were present during the actual day of distribution, the project aimed to benefit more than 2,000 family members due to the livelihood opportunities and hundreds of thousands of Filipino consumers of the vegetable produce of the recipient famers.
The remaining affected farmers may be assisted by the Provincial and Municipal LGU of Buguias and other private partner agencies of the local government unit. On the other hand, TYKFI’s farm inputs assistance would certainly help the farmer-beneficiaries to hopefully generate much need income and capital for future planting seasons.